Smart Home Automation Products Fail to Impress Consumers

According to the new data, distrust from consumers about the reliability of connected devices is obstructing growth in consumer adoption.

home automation and argus

Smart home devices and technology are supposed to make life easier for consumers, but a new report from Argus Insights shows that satisfaction is only slowly rising while overall demand continues to decline.

According to the new data, distrust from consumers about the reliability of connected devices is obstructing growth in consumer adoption.

"It is surprising to see that consumers are getting happier as demand continues to fall," John Feland, Argus Insights CEO told eWEEK. "This is due to the early adopters who have soldiered through the learning curve and can now enjoy the benefits of products, but overall delight remains rather low due to connectivity and reliability issues."

Feland also noted the report is not based on a survey, but upon analysis of over 45,000 consumer reviews, allowing the data to represent a large pool of consumers actually using the products.

"By focusing on the same data we all use to guide our own purchase decisions, we are able to uncover what is important to the market, not what questions are important to the surveyor," he said.

Along with a steady drop in demand, [consumer wariness] may lead to a challenging holiday sales season for home automation companies, the report noted.

The report takes a deeper look at consumer response to security systems, in particular Canary and SimpliSafe, and security cameras and the Nest Cam market acceptance.

"Security is just one concern in the web of issues constraining consumer adoption of home automation products. In analysis of social conversation, we have seen concern about failed security tests exposing just how easy it is for hackers to access information from a long list of smart home devices," Feland said. "One appeal of the DIY market is that security footage and other information about daily routines is not monitored by a third party, but this pro is outweighed by the cons of spotty network connection and lagging notifications."

He said this is especially important given the number of vendors that insist consumers push their live feeds to the cloud for processing, increasing the avenues by which hackers and others can access private data.

The report also indicated products that deliver on the promise of easy installation and maintenance are driving up delight metrics.

"In the near future, we predict a continued drop in demand until the industry can address the installation and reliability issues. While interest in the smart home market is clear, the user experience must become simplified to enable the typical consumer to install and use connected devices," Feland said. "The challenges of consumers working across connectivity standards, Zigbee, ZWave, BLE, WiFi and more, are slowing adoption."

He explained when the industry converges on a set of technology implementations that are largely immune to the wide diversity of networking skills possessed by consumers, we will see this market fulfill the promised growth.